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Posted by ESC on June 26, 2001

In Reply to: English/Luddite posted by R. Berg on June 26, 2001

: : : : : : I know exactly what you mean. But it is up to us - the grownups - to see that young people don't miss out on the joys of reading and playing outside. Despite computers, TV, etc., the children in my family still like books. My children, nieces and nephews, and now their children, are readers. I personally see to it. When each child is born, I start his or her library. When my children were small, I made sure they played outside. Children don't get nearly enough outdoors time (School recesses here in my part of the U.S. are either brief or nonexistent). There was a move afoot to make school year-round here. I made an impassioned plea before the school board (and was quoted in the paper) saying, "We need all the summer we can get." We won that fight. We still have summer.

: : : : : I don't see a uniform downward trend. National spelling bees still make the news--and with more-obscure words than I encountered in school. Not all children were in love with language in past generations, either, only some.

: : : : Gee, did I feel embarrassed to have spelled *English* "Enlish" in what I wanted to be the post title?! Then I messed it up in another way: getting my name in the thread title, and post-title where my name should be! Apologies. I do love English, folk wisdom, history, and so forth. Maybe I don't love technology quite as much. Am I just narcissistic in feeling put off by the post-literate trend? - Patty

: : : You're the best person here to answer that question

: : Hard to say if I am or not. If you worship your own thoughts, feelings, and value judgements, you're probably the last to realize the fact.

: : : but the trend is broader than that: it's a postcognitive trend. On a website devoted to the old radio comedy "Fibber McGee and Molly," I was looking at scripts and listening to tapes of the show from the 1940s and 1950s. They include the commercials, which differed strikingly from today's commercials in that they still appealed to reason. The announcer actually stated facts about the product.

: : Makes me wonder if the media in the 40s and 50s had a more "cognitive" audience, or rather felt they had a responsibility to edify that audience. There was often a socially conscious content in the old radio plays and movies, which would have given pause for reflection. There was a nod to morality and to love. Nowadays you can sell movies just with big car explosions, or with beautiful bodies and erotic situations. In other words, appealing to zones below the brain and heart (lol)! - Patty

: Or you can sell "Schindler's List" or "The Cider House Rules," just to name a couple with depth. Here's a difference: At the time you're talking about, there were A movies and B movies. (There was also trashy fiction.) Now theaters show one feature for one ticket, and we have an age-based rating system instead.

: I think these societal and cultural issues would fit better on a different forum. We're straying far from the Phrase Finder purpose. Sooner or later we'll get caught at it.

Something is definitely missing today. Nobody is looking out for the children but (if they are lucky) their parents. Most TV and movies are trash. A lot of the music is trash. I know from listening to music from the 20s and 30s, that there have always been dirty words and double meanings in music. But the difference, and this isn't an original thought, is that it's so mean-spirited now. All the more reason to go read a good book.